Nightly News   |  September 12, 2013

Fire burns down New Jersey boardwalk 

A fire destroys the recently rebuilt boardwalk in Seaside Park, N.J. The area had been reconstructed after Hurricane Sandy devastated it last year. NBC’s Brian Williams talks to Gov. Chris Christie about the impact this will have on the Garden State.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. we're going to begin with breaking news tonight. a tragedy unfolding at a place that's already endured so much and downs bounced back from so much. a raging fire is tonight marching through seaside park , new jersey. it has already consumed most of the iconic boardwalk there. at least 80% of it. just repaired this past winter, it took a massive public works effort to rebuild the boardwalk in time for this past summer after so much of it was ripped away by hurricane sandy. the pictures, for example, of the old jetstar roller coaster sitting in the ocean were beamed around the world from here. it was on something called the funtown pier and we just watched part of that structure collapse in flames while cameras rolled on it a short time ago. the boardwalk at seaside, as you may know, is a string of tightly packed, mostly family-owned businesses and concessions. volunteer fire departments from miles around have responded in waves, but they have been no match for the dry timber. blocks of boardwalk , an endless source of fuel, burning down within 20 feet of approaching waves on the shoreline. the smoke plume from this, visible for miles is following the jersey shore north as the state of new jersey is looking at a colossal loss tonight -- financial and otherwise. on the telephone with us, having just arrive there had is new jersey governor chris christie . governor, perhaps you want to take a whack at putting the scope of this into words.

>> brian, i just arrived about 20 minutes ago. the scene is this -- you are familiar with the area. we have cut a 20- foot wide trench in the boardwalk at ocean avenue and lincoln avenue , about a block and a half from the icon nick midway sausage and pepper stand in the center of the boardwalk . that's where we are making our stand. everything south of there is going to be destroyed. north, we are trying to make our stand right here and i just spoke to fire officials who at least at the moment are optimistic we can make our stand here and keep the fire from spreading north on the board walk uh.

>> we just walked the boards in the off season preparing for the start of the season last memorial day before the summer. we both, of course, point of personal privilege have ties there and continue to go back as adults. how much can one place be expect ed to take?

>> you know, i was already with the police chief , tommy boyd , and the other folks here. it is a desperate situation here, brian. we don't know yet the cause of the fire, but we do know that it started in the vicinity of the coors orangeade stand near the funtown pier. we are looking at winds down here from 20 to 30 miles an hour out of the south headed north. that's our biggest enemy now are these winds. i can tell you that where we have ordered fire equipment here from monmouth, mercer, burlington, atlantic, and cape may counties in addition to ocean county where we are . we are pumping water out of the bay to help fight the fire. we are running hose from the bay all the way to the boardwalk and using that as one of the sources of water to try to keep the pressure as high as possible.

>> governor chris christie describing a desperate situation in an iceyiconic jersey shore landmark as it burns to the sand. thank you very much for being with us from there h tonight.